The nature of the particle suo in the passive constructions in Classical Chinese

Jen Ting*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The main purpose of this article is to determine the syntactic nature of the particle suo in passive constructions in Classical Chinese. We argue that this particle is licensed in a similar, though not identical, fashion in Classical relatives and passives. More specifically, it is licensed in an A'-configuration provided by these two constructions and undergoes overt N 0 to I0 movement. Crucially, however, suo does not undergo further I0 to C0 movement at LF in Classical passives and thus contrasts with its counterpart in Classical relatives, which, as claimed by Ting (2005) exhibits such an operation. Under this analysis, the particle suo in Classical relatives bears a [+wh] feature whereas its counterpart in Classical passives bears a [-wh] feature and is bound by a null operator. The former is thus an operator whereas the latter is a variable. The implications of this analysis that emerge for the 'short' passives in Classical Chinese and for the 'linker' between a relative clause and its head noun in Classical and Contemporary Chinese are also discussed. The result of this investigation is shown to resolve the long-lasting controversy over the status of suo in relatives and passives in Classical Chinese and furthermore to provide an example of applying new theoretical tools to the study of Classical Chinese grammar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-72
Number of pages43
JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jan


  • Classical Chinese
  • Clitic
  • Head movement
  • Particle suo
  • Passive construction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'The nature of the particle suo in the passive constructions in Classical Chinese'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this